tonight on "nightline," my father is evil. one, the son of the d.c. sniper. the other, the son of the jonestown cult leader. how do you cope when your dad's one of history's most notorious mass killers? the inside story of nature versus nurture. going big. it's been a crazy economic year, with big layoffs, but even bigger profits. so, who's the new top dog? we get an exclusive first look at the new fortune 500. plus, soldier under fire. a muslim soldier at ft. hood who wants to defend his country, but instead, must defend himself against the racist hostility from some of his military
colleagues. diane sawyer reports. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, martin bashir and cynthia mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline," april 14th, 2010. >> good evening. you cannot choose your parents, for good or bad, their traits, some in appearance, some in personality, naturally become yours. but what if your father is a killer? a sniper whose reign of terror kept the country on edge, or a cult leader that convinced more than 900 followers to take their own lives in a mass suicide? both of these notorious figures were also fathers, and for their sons, well, each day is a battle between who they are, and who they want to be. as neal karlinsky now reports. >> there has been another shooting. >> ten people kimmed. >> all of the victims shot. >> reporter: to the families of
the ten people killed by the so-called d.c. sniper -- >> the excuse of john allen muhammad has been carried out under the laws of the commonwealth of virginia. >> reporter: november 10th, 2009 marks the day they found the closest thing to justice the system could offer. john allen muhammad was put to death, executed by lethal injection. but to a 27-year-old animal control officer in baton rouge, louisiana, by the name of lindbergh williams, november 10th has a different meaning. it's the day williams visits death row with a two hour visitor pass and one goal. to get to know the stranger inside. the killer, who was his father. what was it like seeing him on death row? >> it was weird. we stood there, just looked at each other for about, i want to say a good three minutes, no words said. no anything. i think we both are doing the same thing, like, that's my
nose. you have my ears. so, we both checking each other out, looked like -- >> reporter: two strangers. >> two strangers that's looking in a mirror. >> reporter: williams is part of a tiny fraternity of children forever marked bid infamous fathers. one of charles manson's three sons, michael bruener, granted a rare interview to kcbs television a few years ago. >> scared of you? >> i wouldn't say he was scared. >> reporter: the so called btk killer had a life during his spree. >> she is my final victim. that and my family. >> reporter: along with two chirp, who have stayed out of the public eye. forensic sigh sky tris, dr. michael wellner says the relationship that williams shares with his father is a complex one. >> children never ask to be born. imagine having never asked to be born and then knowing that 50% of your dna is from someone who probably never should have been born. >> you look a lot like him right there.
a lot like him. >> i know. this is the neighborhood. i would get, hey, little john. i get it all the time. i can't deny it. >> reporter: williams lives in the same trailer that his father did when he was a young man, a strange place to call home for someone trying to find a path around his father's shadow. he doesn't believe in the old saying, like father, like son. >> you getting fat, too. >> reporter: just as he doesn't believe his beloved pit bulls are predestined to hurt people. >> you don't come into the world with bad intentions. you do not touch the face of the earth and say, okay, my mother was a pit bull, my father was a pit bull, i might as well go in the ring and continue the legacy. >> reporter: you see parallels with people. >> yeah. your momma was on drugs. your daddy was a pimp, so i know you're no good. i'm a believer that your environment doesn't make the
person or make the man. give me a kiss. give me a kiss. >> reporter: he grew up without his dad, and aside from a summer spent together when he was a boy, barely knew mu hhammad. he has two photos taken when he was just a baby, and a simple white box with his father's name on it. >> i haven't had time to actually get an urn yet, but my -- my father's ashes sit in my house. >> reporter: that's your father's ashes. >> yeah. where you are going? you want to play? >> reporter: no matter how hard he's tried to distance himself from his father's actions, as he did to the victim's families after the execution -- >> i am the son of the d.c. sniper, and not him. >> reporter: williams won't shy away from the fact that he wishes he had a chance to know his dad. >> he can't help looking the way he looks. he can't being associated with his father. >> i hated my father. when he was alive and for years
after his death. >> reporter: stephen jones is the son of jim jones. >> these lovely people are all happy, none of them want to return. they're delighted with this lovely life. >> reporter: the murderous cult leader who in 1978 was responsible for one of the largest mass suicides in history. 900 people in jonestown, guyana. jim jones himself died that day, but his teenage son stephen, who was in guyana, and desperately wanted to escape his father's cult, was away from the compound at the time, playing basketball. >> i can assure you, sir, i was not in on what happened here. i came here to play basketball. >> reporter: here he is speaking with reporters in the aftermath. >> i'm only 19 years of age. i'm so terrified. >> reporter: terrified right there. >> yeah, my mind is just -- just numb with fear.
i want to get through to these people, because i feel a lot of guilt. >> reporter: you felt guilt? >> i was not there when my loved ones needed me most. >> reporter: you have a calmness and you seem very level and even. did it take you some time to get to this place? >> i have been anything but peaceful in my life and i've certainly spent plenty of time in hell on earth. >> reporter: but over time, he's learned to forgive his father. >> i also remember what a character he was, what an incredibly intelligent man he was, and how he could really be very loving. that got messier as time went on, but he was a mixed bag. >> reporter: you're quoted here saying, i think a lot of the same tendencies he had, manipulative ten den sips, that you can see them in yourself and thank goodness he lived before me. >> oh, yeah, yeah. absolutely. and i -- i have -- i've had my
own struggle with narcissim. i've got it all going on inside of me. i mean, really good stuff going on, and i've got a shadow that will rival anyone's. >> reporter: taking on his own demons is one thing. but jones is a father. >> is it a tiger? >> no. >> reporter: a father who has to explain grandpa to his kids before he comes up as a lesson in school. >> she's being taught her grandfather is a mass murderer. scary stuff for a kwid. >> yeah, yeah. i can say, i'm not ready to tell you the whole story, but i will. >> reporter: do you think about how you're going to tell your kids who granddad is? >> nope. tell them. it's 2010. what is the purpose of me sugar coating anything for my child? >> reporter: that's tough stuff. >> i rather you hear it from me or you go to your social studies class and read it in a book. >> these men know this is part
of them, and they're hoping that as parents, at an early stage, they can bring out the best in their children. because they know a history of things going horribly wrong. >> reporter: williams is confident that being like his father, not the criminal, but the person, that being like him isn't bad at all. do you feel that you're like your father in some ways? >> certain aspects, yeah. >> reporter: like what? >> i'm very independent. i don't like handouts. i have the same mentality, no such thing as can't. no such thing that you can't do anything. if you think you can jump to the moon, try your hardest to jump and grab the moon. >> reporter: williams didn't get to know his dad that day on death row, but he knows this. they are very different people. nature versus nurture. williams says for both him and his pit bulls, destiny is a work in progress. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in baton rouge. >> escaping a father's dark
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gains. the markets are not the only indicator of recovery. another is the massive corporate profits many companies have just posted. so, how did they do it? and whose pockets are the fattest? john berman cashes in with an exclusive look at the fortune magazine's new fortune 500. ♪ >> reporter: wait. what's that sound? there it is again. holy cow! someone's making money! a whole lot of money. in the last year, fortune magazine's fortune 500 list, the biggest companies in america, boosted their earnings a whopping 335%. >> it's just a staggering amount of money that big companies made in 2009 versus 2008. $330 billion more than they did in previous year. i mean, that's an unprecedented gain.
>> reporter: so, that's a reason to celebrate, right? just listen to the applause. applause, right? why no party? >> you can really say that, you know, the reason why these xeems are doing so much better is because these big companies fired a lot of people. that's absolutely true. >> reporter: well, that kind of bites. the fortune 500 shed 834,000 jobs last year. the biggest cut-back in history. so, with that cheery backdrop, some highlights from this year's fortune 500. number one on the list? >> walmart. actually had a good year, and maybe that's not surprising because people really look for value during tough economic times. >> exxon-mobil dropped from number one to number two. but the falling energy prices did kick six energy companies
off the 500 list. >> this is when i thought the federal reserve didn't know what they were doing. >> reporter: should we take up a collection? i asked "mad money's" jim cramer. should we worry? >> no, we shouldn't worry about anybody that sits on a pool of black stuff and makes a ton of money. >> reporter: also gone -- bye-bye builders. in 2007, there were 14 home builders on the list. now, zero. new to the list? nine newcomers in health care. >> you need your medicines. you need your health care. >> reporter: number 40, pfizer's earnings jumped 7%. they make viagra -- i'm told. and it was a great year for aig, which lost $11 billion last year. so, how could you have a good year losing $11 billion? well, the previous year they lost $99 billion. >> we thought that everything they did was wrong. well, maybe only 78% of what they did was wrong. >> reporter: now that is something to be proud of.
sort of like general motors' high ranking. >> they're number 16. a real accomplishment for pretty much any company. but not for gm, which for years, decades, was either number one or close to number one. the biggest company in the fortune 500, the biggest company in america and the biggest company in the world is now only the 16th biggest company in the united states. >> reporter: ford, on the other hand, is number eight. they didn't take government money. >> act schully people who bought ford because they didn't take a bailout from the government. >> reporter: now, for the silver cloud with the gray lining. there is plenty of good news in this economy. take number 56 on the list, apple. >> we got the goods. >> what an incredible story, steve jobs runs that company. introduced the ipad recently. the iphone, the ipod touch. these products are just amazing. and that company is growing so fast. >> reporter: that's the good news. the bad? is it a mod snl. >> no, because the people that run it are too smart.
we don't have their model. we can just look up at them and get crumbs of wisdom. >> reporter: crumbs. well, better than last year, right? i'm john berman for "nightline" in new york. >> still plenty of money at the top. and the new fortune 500 will be on newsstands next week. our thanks to john berman. and when we come back, how a proud patriot training to defend the united states became the target of intolerance by fellow soldiers, all because of his religious faith. [ female announcer sometimes you need tomorrow
continues from new york city with martin bashir. >> he's described as an exemplary soldier, but the bat this army specialist is fighting is not against an enemy abroad, but one here at home. here's a muslim, and for that, he says, he's endured not just teasing, but outright religious and racial discrimination, as diane sawyer now reports. >> reporter: this is army speci specialist zachari klawonn. his friends say he is smart, brave, dedicated. the kind of soldier they aspire to be. >> when i first seen him, i was like, oh, a muslim. up know, pretty much like, what are they doing? are are they doing here? and then -- i ran into him, you know, and i started speaking to him. klawonn, to me, is my battle buddy. he's like -- as some people, a brother from another mother. >> any time someone items him, you know, what he can't do, he does it. >> like a gazelle. something you see on the dcovery channel. i'm not on his level, not even
close. >> i really do think he is the best soldier in our battalion. hands down. >> reporter: the best soldier. and his mother is moroccan. he speaks arabic. his father was from kansas and was in the air force, but died when zachari was 15. >> since i can remember, absolutely, know, since a young guy, there was really no question about it, i was excited to, you know, i guess defend america. do that, you know, that, we call it hoowah stuff, you know, exciting stuff. very honorable, admirable. >> reporter: it was the summer before his senior year, when he decided to enlist without his family's knowledge. >> i called my mom, i told her, i joined the army. she started laughing. i said, no, mom, i really joined the army. and she's like -- you know, what? are you -- what? and she just hung the phone up. and i called back maybe two, three, more times, she didn't pick up. we didn't talk for about three
days. >> reporter: he arrived at basic training in oklahoma the drill sergeant singled him out. made fun of islam in front of 400 recruits. >> called me out of formation. took me to the front and basically making a mockery of it. >> reporter: next, at a final training exercise in the field -- >> i was picked out of our entire group to play the terrorist. >> they wrapped some cloth around his head and -- we got to put him down, you know, have guns drawn on him. >> reporter: it didn't stop there. when he arrived at ft. hood, texas. >> i think it was the third week here, i noticed from a distance, underneath my windshield here that there was a letter there. and i took the letter out and i read it, and it said, hey, carpet jockey, go back where you come from. >> i've heard a few osama bin laden jokes, like, you know, like where's your dad at? i know, referring to osama bin laden, and, you know, saddam hussein.
>> iraq head. sand monkey, carpet jockey. zachari bin laden. i mean, they're alterable names but the one that really hits me hard is to be called a terrorist. >> reporter: and again, not just recruits, his sergeant. >> one of my first sergeants, he asked me loudly in front of everybody, you're not part of any terrorist organization or anything -- i was like, are you kidding me? >> reporter: on november 5th, 200, major nidal hasan, a muslim, opened fire and killed 13 at foot. hood. >> we really didn't know who it was or anything like that, but when details started to come out, one of them that they had in custody was a muslim, so i thought immediately, like, you know, here we go. you know, the guy, there are going to be guys linking me to that through the fact that we're both muslim. people asking me to justify what major hasan had done that day, and asking me to justify is kind
of ridiculous because how can i justify an act like that. >> reporter: then, three months after the shooting, it was a monday morning -- >> 2:00 a.m., i was woken up by a loud beating. and a note falls that was wedged in the door. i pick it up and read it. excuse me, but it said, [ bleep ] rag head, burn in hell. >> that was the most despicable thing. >> reporter: klawonn reported his incident to his commanders, whose answer was to ask him to move off base. after "the washington post" published an article about him, other soldiers wrote, trying to help. one wrote, i want to let you know i'd be honored to share a foxhole with you any day. another, army captain dorothy, one of the shooting victims, seen here, talking to abc's won woodruff. >> says dear specialist klawonn. i read your story in the "washington post." i'm sorry about the harassment
you have suffered due to me getting shot. it is up fair and unwarranted. >> reporter: but as of tonight, this model soldier, the kind that loved getting up at 4:00 in the morning to get ready for the day, is debating whether to stay. >> i'm not asking for a handout. i'm not asking for any special treatment. i'm asking for the bear essentials in the due rights that the rest of the soldiers have. >> reporter: ready to fight for his country, but wounded by prejudice at home. >> what did you get in the military to protect? >> oh, the will of life. the rights that we have. you know, when i say the sky's the limit, the american dream. the constitutional rights that we have and the freedoms that we take for granted, near and dear to my heart. >> army officials would not commercial due to the ongoing investigation, but did applaud the candor of specialist klawonn and his follow soldiers. our thanks to diane sawyer.